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Sarah Stannard: From working in corporations to providing tips for a healthy life

The Covid pandemic changed the lives of many people in the world. For Sarah, despite the difficulties, it opened up a new opportunity for her. For years she did important work in corporations, but it was far from her dream job.The pandemic was the moment that changed her career direction for the better. Today Sarah is a ‘Health and Wellness Coach’ who enjoys every minute of working with her patients. In this interview, she gives us some important tips on how we can eat more healthily and how our well-being can affect our self-esteem.

When did you realise what your real motive was in life?

As a child I had always dreamt of owning my own business and working for myself but never had the courage to really go for it! As a little girl I used to make perfume from rose petals and would dream of having a wonderful business selling it.

My life unfortunately didn’t follow that path and instead I found myself in a well-paid corporate role as ‘Head of Sales’ for a multi-million-pound international logistics company while still daydreaming about one day taking the leap to try something new.

There I was at 47 years old, having spent over twenty years in logistics and knowing this would probably never change. Nor would I ever find the bravery to make that change.

This was a job I did not love and it was a job that I found stressful – where people were not very nice to me. The weight and responsibility of this job meant I did not sleep well at night and even spent some evenings crying with unhappiness.  This was originally the job I planned to stay in for at least two years, no matter what, purely because of how it would complement my CV. Then, out of nowhere came COVID-19, quickly followed by my redundancy.

Having never been unlucky enough to find myself without a job, I initially felt fear and I panicked. I sat in the office of my very formidable female boss and listened while she told me the company needed to make cost savings and so I no longer had a job.

My initial panic while sitting there slowly started shifting though. I hated this job so maybe this was good news! The universe was pushing me out towards new opportunities and I started to feel excited. Maybe I could now follow my childhood dream and have my own business. Yes, I told myself, I could do this!

Only seconds passed before this was swiftly replaced again by sheer panic. What was this wild pipe dream that arrived in my mind fleetingly, and how crazy was it? I needed a job – but I didn’t really want a job. Then again, I wanted to take this chance – this huge shift in my universe had that had been created for me. It was a break in the clouds and a gift! Within days I had turned down an offer of a very good new role. Then I stopped attending interviews and stopped arranging new ones.

Instead, I decided to give my dreams a chance. I started meditating and manifesting exactly what I wanted to do and thought about where this chance could lead me. I asked the universe to help me find my purpose and it did not take long to find my new path and my new passion. My love of helping people had always been in my heart – added to my love of nutrition, exercise and overall health.My friends regularly asked me; ‘How do you keep fit?’, ‘What do you eat for lunch and dinner?’, ‘What is your diet?’ and ‘How do you stay so slim at your age?’.The time had come to start a new business as a ‘Health and Wellness Coach’!

My role as a Health Coach is all about being a supportive mentor who helps clients feel their best through food and lifestyle changes plus personalised one-to-one encouragement. I guide and motivate clients to reach their goals in twelve different areas of holistic health.

It felt right and amazing as though the job was made for me. Stepping into an entirely new space, I proactively signed up to a year’s online course with an internationally renowned health and nutrition school –‘The Institute of Integrative Nutrition’ (IIN).

From the moment I signed up my heart soared at the thought of working with clients and helping them to achieve their health goals. I knew I would be improving the lives of people and this made me feel overjoyed.  I am now almost one year on, with my training nearly finished, and I have now started coaching. I will be fully certified by late April 2021 and my business has continued to grow in the meantime.

It has been a mammoth learning curve and I have achieved things I never thought possible. I have received some fantastic feedback from various client testimonials, which is wonderful. I have also juggled home-schooling with studying and starting a business from scratch and things have never been better! I am earning less compared with my corporate status and our financial life currently is different, but I have never been happier, more relaxed, or more excited about what the future holds. Every day I am more challenged and engaged, more blown away by the wonderful people I am helping and even more proud of myself. I know I am a better person, a better mum, and a better wife too. I’m finally living my dream.

What is the first step you take with a new client?

When I start working with a new client it is so exciting. I love getting to know the person and learning all about them, their health and their lifestyle. We begin with a full ‘Health Discovery’ session, which is a deep dive to understand what has motivated them to come to me and what they want to achieve. We then create specific goals and intentions that work for them and plan a three-month program to achieve these goals. Taking small steps towards goals is the best way to achieve long term lifestyle changes.

This initial session usually lasts around an hour and delves into their full history of health to date. During the coaching sessions, we use a tool called ‘The Circle of Life’ to discover other areas where a client might feel unfulfilled, which may affect health and well being. My study with the IIN follows the premise that overall health means to be truly fulfilled in all areas of your life. Not just eating kale and running 5ks! We work toward happiness and joy across twelve areas which also include things like relationships, career, finance, health, home cooking, spirituality, physical activity, social life and nutrition.

How important is food for a healthy life?

I believe our diet plays an integral part in our overall health. We look into food and nutrition in detail. I have studied over 100 dietary theories so I work with the client to find their bio-individual preferences and what suits their lives, their body and their mindset. Food is what fuels our bodies and so when we eat, we are either feeding disease or fighting it. Junk food or high fat and high refined sugar foods are proven to cause inflammation which can ultimately cause chronic disease over time.  Having now studied the importance of healthy food I have completely changed my diet over this last year because I now truly understand how incredibly food can affect our minds, our bodies and our health and even our overall life span. The exciting thing for me is finding amazing recipes which feed and fuel my body and allow me to find strength and joy everyday. I love discovering new ways to eat healthier, whilst still absolutely loving my food as I always have done. This knowledge helps my clients so much when guiding them to decide the best nutritional diet for them.

In respect of the ‘ideal diet’, what should we consume on a typicalSpring day?

Springtime is here! The days are getting longer, flowers are blooming and everyone is in a good mood. This change of season can be amazing for our diet, with the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables coming into season. I always have my list of favourites ready for each season. Spring to me means strawberries, asparagus and artichokes to name a few.Adding a wide array of veggies and fruit to your diet will make you feel nourished while also gently cleansing and resetting your digestive and immune systems.

How much does being overweight affect self-esteem?

Some clients want to lose weight or feel more comfortable in their clothes, which I totally agree is important.But how pressured should we feel to conform to what society suggests is the perfect body?

I think self-esteem should not be linked to just how much you weigh. For me, it starts with confidence in yourself and what you can achieve in all areas of your life. Finding ways to love yourself, to be the ‘best you’ and to also feel truly like you are giving something back to the world is a way better feeling than just fitting into your size 10 jeans.

True health to me is all about eating well and living on a wholefood diet – which consists of lots of fruit and vegetables. Add to this healthy protein and as little refined sugar and high fat foods as possible. Then follow this up with water, plenty of sleep and finding a way to exercise that gives you joy. It’s also about having great relationships and lastly a strong fulfilling purpose in life. And amazingly, your body will also find its own natural weight.

What advice would you give to all those who are looking for a motive for a healthier life?

For anyone really wanting to find the motivation to live a healthier life, I would suggest deciding what is important to you. And finding out your ‘why’ can also give you the motivation you need to achieve anything in life. For example, maybe you’d like to be fitter and have more energy, so you’d like to start exercising regularly. Your ‘why’ might be: ‘to get that promotion and still have the energy to play football in the garden with my children.’Next you need to decide on your outcome once you have achieved this goal.For example – you’ll be more energetic and find life’s challenges easier to cope with!

Then you need to look at what obstacles stand in your way. Perhaps it’s lack of time or maybe a partner that does not want you to change.

Once you have these goals written down and you work through each obstacle – make a plan to overcome them. You may need to talk to your partner about what’s important to you about this life change or look in detail at your diary so that you can prioritise more time for exercise. Next, plan the start date and get the workout clothes ready then find a place or area to do it and get going!  Anything worth doing won’t be easy to start with, but over time the rewards will be amazing and endless.

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